Eastern Art Online, Yousef Jameel Centre for Islamic and Asian Art

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Bowl with hunting dog

Glossary (2)

fritware, underglaze painting

  • fritware

    Ceramic material composed of ground quartz and small quantities of clay and finely ground frit (frit is obtained by pouring molten glass into water).

  • underglaze painting

    Painting applied to ceramic material before a transparent, or monochrome or coloured glaze for Islamic objects, is applied. The technique was initially developed in China.


    • First floor | Room 31 | Islamic Middle East

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Publications online

  • Islamic ceramics, by James W. Allan

    Islamic Ceramics

    The date of the introduction of underglaze-painting into Syria and Egypt, its origin and its early development, are much less clear than in the case of Iran (no. 10 [EA1978.231]). It would seem, however, that by about 1200 AD the technique had become widespread. Two bowl forms are common, one, as in this example, hemispherical with a broad flat rim [1], the other truncated conical with a tall cylindrical foot (no. 25 [EA1978.2196]). The latter is so similar to a common Kashan shape of the early thirteenth century (no. 11 [EA1978.2341]) that there must be a link between Syria and Iran at this period, but which way the possible influence is moving is as yet uncertain. What is definite, however, is that both derive from a metalwork shape of which there is a notable inlaid bronze example in the name of an officer of the early thirteenth century ruler of Mosul (in northern Iraq), Badr al-Din Lu’lu’.

    Syrian drawing on ceramics is much bolder than the drawings on contemporary Persian pots. Typical of the Syrian style are animals – hares, hunting dogs and deers – caught by the artist in an ‘arrested’ stance, one of their front paws raised, their heads turned to the rear. Their two back legs are usually unnaturally lengthened, ending in glorious curving brush-strokes. Such animal drawing looks back to the Fatimid period (969-1172) in Egypt, when the legacy of classical realism could still be felt, and animals and birds were popular elements in art.

    1. For this shape, see bowl 1978.2193 under no. 25.

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